Monday, December 31, 2012

Incredibly, against all expectations, there was Cass to be had in Tokyo!

Whenever I'm in Tokyo, I try to find American comics (or even Japanese comics translated into English).  The best place for this is Blister, a small comic book store in Hamacho.  They're only open a few brief hours during the week but we managed to fit in a stop there during our busy holiday ramble.  And what did I find?

The Batgirl:  Destruction's Daughter trade paperback collection and yet another copy of Batgirl: Fists of Fury.  I believed DC let all their Cass Cain Batgirl collections go out of print-- and also that I'd bought the last Fists of Fury available in Japan earlier in the year-- but these two may actually still be alive out there somewhere.  Seeing them was a happy surprise.  Since I have sworn to buy everything Cass I come across that I don't already own, I immediately bought Destruction's Daughter, even though I find for everything cool within there's something equally lame.  Fists of Fury is superior in almost every way.  That's not to say Destruction's Daughter is all bad.  We'll discuss this at a later time.

How much did I pay for this gem?  A mere 2000 yen.  As of today, that's 23.29 USD, three bucks and change over the SRP.  In Japan, when we're talking imported comics, that qualifies as a bargain.  I'm not sure how much Fists of Fury was retailing for this time around.

There are no copies of the monthly series at Blister.  If there had been, I would have bought all of them.  There are plenty of the Stephanie Brown Batgirl and the New 52 Batgirl to be had.  This is because they're of a more recent vintage and I'm not into them.  For me, it's Cass or nothing.

Tower Records in Shibuya and Kinokuniya in Shinjuku had no Cass books whatsoever.  Perhaps she's a guest star in something with Robin or Red Robin or Batman, but I'm not into any of those, either, so I didn't check.

In related news, I finally signed up for Comixology so I can participate in some of these pro-Cass campaigns.  It's difficult for me to wait for the official days, though.  I'm seriously considering just jumping the gun and buying some digital Cass while I'm all fired up about her again!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A more traditional Cass with Enid Coleslaw from "Ghost World"

Did I show you this one already? I drew this sketch on an Intuos PTK-650 pen tablet. The ape is from a Frazetta painting for some old issue of Creepy magazine, that's supposed to be Uncle Fester standing there, none of the figures relate to each other and there's no narrative. Unless you supply one! Go ahead! Have fun! Somebody has to make up stories about Cass now that DC won't let any of their writers. Just don't try to make any money off them because that's some kind of infringement. Copyright? Trademark? What am I, a lawyer? I'm barely an artist!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Will it be a Cass Christmas?

I'm off for Tokyo today.  You know, Tokyo would be a fantastic setting for a story where Cass takes on the yakuza.  I just typed that sentence and I'm already envisioning several set-pieces-- an all-out fight in a pachinko parlor in Kabuki-cho, a night time roof-top battle above some other part of Shinjuku, an outing with Steph to Roppongi where they meet some sleazy American dudes at a dance club and deal with them in a humorous way, more comedic relief in Harajuku where Cass experiences rori culture then things take a turn for the violent and weird when she fights a pair of amarori assassins, concluding with a thrilling climax atop the Tokyo Sky Tree.  We need a cohesive plot to tie all of that together, right?

It would beat the pants off that Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine mini-series.

I doubt there's a single Cass-related item for sale in Tokyo these days.  You know why?  Because I BOUGHT THEM ALL!  But I'll take a look and buy whatever I see, then tell you about it here.

Happy Holidays to all you Cass fans out there!  And good will to the Steph supporters!  And a Happy New Year to DC!  Bring both of those characters back and make the season bright!

Cass's back!

Here's an old one. Well, a year or two old. I think. It's another sketchbook drawing (markers) of my version of Cass. I blooped one up using the clear marker. Not a good idea.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Another Cass voice silenced...

We're about a month away from the Fight On, Cass target date (January 26th), but sadly I have to report the disappearance of Support Cass!/Cass Cain Campaign, the Tumblr dedicated to the last effort to re-interest DC in Cass by inspiring people to buy a digital issue of her series.  I just tried to visit the site and it is gone, gone, gone.  Like Cass herself.

It's a little bit of a downer.  Cass gets a mention here and there, usually as an aside in an item discussing Stephanie Brown, Wally West or Donna Troy and the occasional think piece or fan art, but there's just not a whole lot of Cass buzz out there at the moment.  At least not much I can detect from over here in Japan.

It's really difficult to gauge how much of a fanbase the character has left.  I can count four I've interacted with recently, plus Zechs (assuming he's on the level) which gives me a hard number of six (including myself).  Let's go ahead and figure on a few more based on some of the message board posts I come across (these are harder to tally because they require deeper Internet sleuthing than I'm able to devote time and effort to; I'm not Oracle, for crying out loud, but then, neither is anyone else these days).

So.  Two dozen?  Or is that being optimistic?

Well, I'm going to keep on.  That's what Cass would have done if she hadn't been eliminated from continuity.

I found the Gail Simone announcement kinda anti-climactic...

Look, I'm happy for her.  I really am.  So ends a strange episode, and it's as smart a move on DC's part as firing her was a stupid one.  But I don't think the announcement Gail Simone is back writing Batgirl to be "Internet breaking."*  Gail Simone taking Dan DiDio's job would be Internet breaking.

*No, I didn't think she would be doing a Steph/Cass team book.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cass and/or non-Cass news for 12/21/12 (or Doomsday as the case may be)

Just doing my daily Cassandra Cain news search and I find but the ever-reliable Jude Terror taking the piss again.  This time it has something to do with Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool teasing a big DC announcement involving Gail Simone.  Terror jokes it can only mean Simone will be writing a Stephanie Brown book.  Cass gets a shout out.

Man, that Jude Terror is mean!  He's just plain mean!*

*Thank heavens he gives me something to write about here.  Cass news is sparse these days.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cassandra Cain Versus the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad Vol. 2

We pick up our story in Tokyo, where Cass has beaten O-Ren Ishii and her bodyguards, the Crazy 88.  An angry Batman flies in to scold her and drag her reluctantly back to Gotham City.  Undaunted, Cass flees and after a brief night-time chase, eludes her mentor.  She knows she's risking a complete break with the man who has rapidly become a second father to her, but she's driven by her need to pursue these unusual and deadly people who remind her so much of herself.  Inside Cass rages a crisis of identity.  Using her own resources, she slips back across the Pacific and into the U.S. only to meet...

California Mountain Snake (Elle Driver).  California Mountain Snake briefly lulls Cass into a false sense of security by posing as an ally, but when the moment is right, strikes.  What follows is another sword fight, but Cass has developed katana expertise beyond anything California Mountain Snake can handle.  Cass ends the fight by temporarily blinding the one-eyed killer with a bright light, slipping behind her and shoving her into a filthy dumpster.  She closes the top and uses a small metal torch from her utility belt to seal it shut.  As Cass slips away, we hear California Mountain Snake raging and pounding away helplessly inside her dark prison.

Black Mamba/The Bride (Beatrix Kiddo).  Following up on information gleaned from Cass's defeated foes, Oracle reveals to Batman the location of the comatose Black Mamba.  Batman heads there hoping to intercept Cass who must also have access to this information.  Sensing something sinister at the facility, and backtracking the patient's origins, Batman begins to piece together the puzzle of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.  When Cass finally does show up, Batman realizes he must let her work through her issues.  Grimly, he gives her approval to confront Bill himself.  If she can find him.  Because of the strain it's caused in their relationship, it's the most he's willing to do.  Oracle chides him for testing the girl and Batman questions his own motives.

But not before Black Mamba recovers from her coma during a course of events that exactly follow those in Kill Bill Vol. 1.  A freed California Mountain Snake makes her aborted attempt on Black Mamba's life.  Black Mamba kills her tormentors and regains the ability to walk and fight.  Cass confronts her before she heads off to wreak vengeance on the Deadly Vipers and Bill.  Realizing Cass is after Bill as well, Black Mamba cannot allow her to defeat him before she takes her own shot.  The two fight, a long, running battle that takes place over the rooftops near the hospital a la Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with Black Mamba pursuing Cass just as Shu Lien did Jen Yu.  Both combatants believe the other knows where Bill is hiding.  They're fairly evenly matched, with Cass holding a slight advantage.  When the truth that neither knows where Bill is comes out, they stop their match and Black Mamba exacts an honor vow from Cass that they will meet again when it is all over and settle their differences once and for all, but that she must be the one who kills Bill.  Cass is shocked because she had only thought of bringing Bill to justice for his crimes and once again, she sees a reflection of the self she could have been.  In her confused state, she allows Black Mamba to slip away and experience the events of the Quentin Tarantino film.  Deciding she has to redeem herself in Batman's eyes, Cass breaks the vow she's only just made and grimly follows Black Mamba from a distance.

Bill.  Pursuing Black Mamba, Cass returns to many of the locations from the previous volume, only too late.  She witnesses the carnage left in Black Mamba's wake, becoming increasingly distraught at what she feels resulted from her failure to stop her when she had the chance.  She fears Batman will never forgive her for her lapse.  It's a horrible nightmare trip for her, a dark journey through an underworld she might once have easily inhabited herself.

After encountering the maimed Sofie Fatale and learning Bill's whereabouts, and having a phone conversation with him-- one-sided, of course, because Cass can barely understand what he's saying-- where Bill attempts to work his own charms on her and bring her onto the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad as its newest recruit (using the same logic he employs on Beatrix Kiddo in the film), Cass has an epiphany and now knows she has to save Bill from Black Mamba even though she considers him a very bad person indeed.

Unfortunately, she's once again too late and can only helplessly watch Bill's final moments.  Although she can't fully comprehend the feelings that pass between Black Mamba and Bill, she does know there are some things beyond her limited emotional experience.  Now having learned the full story and what the Deadly Vipers did to Black Mamba when she was The Bride, Cass offers a truce.  Seeing the now at peace Beatrix Kiddo reunited with her daughter sends Cass winging back to Gotham City to repair her relationship with Batman.  And to begin her own search for her elusive mother.  Of course the rigid Batman isn't too happy with her performance, but Oracle convinces him to back off for now.  There are some things about Cass that are also mysteries to them.

Yeah, kind of anti-climactic, huh?  Oh well, they can't all be winners.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cassandra Cain versus the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad Vol. 1

It had to happen.  After briefly considering a fight between Cass and Mr. Kotter and his Sweathogs, I found myself thinking back to all those times-- possibly hundreds-- when I've suggested Cass's Batgirl series should have been more violent and tragic, along the lines of a Kazuo Koike work.  Lady Snowblood, for example, which provided Quentin Tarantino with some of his Kill Bill inspiration.  From there it was a simple imaginative leap to what I modestly call the Fight of the Century.

Cassandra Cain versus Bill and his Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

Forget Vinnie Barbarino and Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington (for now).  Let's follow Cass around the world as she battles the most proficient team of professional killers ever known, each with his or her own murderous specialty.  Except for Bill himself and Beatrix Kiddo, who appear to be polymaths of death.

To be quite honest, there is no way an assassination squad operating on the highest levels like the Deady Vipers would ever confront Cass mano-a-mano.  Realistically, Bill would just have O-Ren "Cottonmouth" Ishii snipe Cass from a distance, fight over.  But even to accept the existence of people like these-- Cass aside-- requires suspension of disbelief.  And once having done that, we demand they put their skills on full display for our amusement.  And anyway, the possibilities contained within this scenario give me chills.  And they're multiplying.  I'm losing control.  Because the power this fight is supplying is electrifying!

Copperhead (Vernita Green).  Bill sends Copperhead, expert in both hand-to-hand combat and knife-fighting, after Cass first.  Copperhead wisely chooses to ambush Cass and their fight is a vicious one.  Copperhead is good, damn good, but she finds herself unable to land anything more than ineffectual glancing blows, and Cass manages several wicked strikes to let Copperhead know she's open for business.  At this point, Copperhead escalates the conflict with throwing knives, which Cass dodges.  As Copperhead tires and grows more desperate, she begins to make mistakes and Cass soon takes advantage, slipping inside Copperhead's guard, disarming her (breaking her wrist in the process), then putting her to sleep with a choke hold.  To Cass's surprise, Batman points out Copperhead actually managed to slice her just once, a shallow wound easily bandaged and not likely to cause any loss of speed or mobility.  Ashamed, Cass silently vows to do better next time.  Next time comes quickly...

Sidewinder (Budd).  Bill's brother Sidewinder is a more pragmatic fighter and comes after Cass with a shotgun loaded not with rock salt but with 12 gauge 00 buckshot.  Unfortunately for him, Copperhead's failure has cost the Deadly Vipers the vital element of surprise and Cass combat-rolls underneath the blast and comes up fighting.  Sidewinder is forced to use his shotgun as a club, but Cass has her opponent off-balance, landing a flurry of blows the tough Sidewinder almost manages to shrug off.  Years of alcohol abuse have dulled his combat edge, though, and Sidewinder succumbs faster than Copperhead.  A hotel room key leads Cass and Spoiler to Sidewinder's temporary lodgings, a seedy motel in a run-down Gotham City suburb.  There, among Sidwinder's possessions, Cass finds a katana.  Batman traces it to Hattori Hanzo and even though he forbids Cass to pursue the matter further and instructs her to shelter in a secret hideaway while he himself deals with Bill's assassins, Cass disobeys, but not before incapacitating Spoiler to keep her friend out of danger.  It's off to Okinawa for Cass.  Despite her lack of language skills, she's able to engage Hanzo in a quick "conversation" at his sushi restaurant and learns the next Deadly Viper to try her hand will be none other than...

Cottonmouth (O-Ren Ishii).  Just as the Bride's fight against Cottonmouth provided a violent spectacle at the end of the first Kill Bill, so must Cass's because it involves scores of black-suited gangsters doing their best to be the immoveable object in front of her unstoppable force.  O-Ren Ishii holds court at the the House of Blue Leaves, a large izakaya where she's protected by the Crazy 88 and serenaded by The 5678s.  Cottonmouth has learned the fates of both Copperhead and Sidewinder via Sophie Fatale's line of communications to Bill, and believes herself ready.  Cass infiltrates the izakaya and lays waste to the Crazy 88 in a spectacular fight scene that puts the one in Kill Bill Vol. 1 to shame, only with much less blood.  Incredibly, Cass kills not one single member of the gang, a feat that takes her longer than it did the Bride in the movie simply because Cass shows restraint.  She's able to knock out Gogo Yubari after a fast and furious scrap, and prepares to confront Cottonmouth, who is armed with her own katana.  This forces Cass to reluctantly use the one she took from Sidewinder, which she carried with her to force Cottonmouth to tell her more about the man who commissioned it (beyond what she's already learned from Hanzo).

They duel with blades flashing and ringing, with Cass outmatched at first but quickly learning to anticipate Cottonmouth's moves.  Soon she's pressing her attack and has Cottonmouth at a disadvantage.  With Cass suddenly distracted slightly by the possibility her opponent might also be her mother, Cottonmouth is able to wound Cass with a vicious slash.  This turns out to be a huge tactical mistake on Cottonmouth's part; with no chance to land a killing blow, a retreat to fight another day would have been the smarter move.  The cagey yakuza boss quickly realizes it, but too late.  Now fully committed to the contest, Cass disarms Cottonmouth and renders her helpless.  Sofie Fatale then reveals more information in order to free her boss from Cass's clutches, not suspecting that Cass would never kill, at least not on purpose.  Now fully apprised of the conspiracy against her, Cass leaves the defeated Cottonmouth to lick her wounds and plan for her own revenge.

End of Vol. 1!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I've come to the conclusion Adam Beechen must be a really nice guy...

In looking for more Cass news this morning, just a smidgen, just a dab, a dot, a teensy, tiny piece of anything-- like that little mouse in the classic Chuck Jones adaptation of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, who sniffs the last remaining crumb before a fuzzy green hand with sharply pointed fingers like Winsor-Newton sable-haired brushes comes into the frame and plucks it away-- I found a review of Adam Beechen's Batgirl: Redemption Road trade collection.  The critic goes into some character analysis I skimmed and found intriguing.  Unfortunately, I don't have time to read it in detail right now.  We'll discuss it at a later date.

But what makes this Cass newsworthy is down in the comments we can see Cass Fan #1 Nathaniel get into a discussion with none other than Adam Beechen himself.  Nathaniel and I have had our qualms about Beechen's Cass characterization for years and with Redemption Road in particular.  I haven't had time to pick over their give and take, either, but from a quick scan it's very congenial and full of a lot of enlightening info that will probably help me fill post after post here at Cass-O-Rama.

It's an impromptu interview you as a Cass fan simply must read.  Yes.  Required reading.  I just need some leisure time to give it my full attention and draw more conclusions other than Beechen shows an amazing amount of good humor and puts an awful lot of thought into his responses, especially when you consider how reviled his writing of Cass has been over the years.

One of my favorite things is when two people disagree and discuss said disagreement in a completely rational, friendly way.  I'm not very good at it.  I'm a bit too... shall we say... passionate.  So as a frothing-at-the-mouth loony, it's neat for me to see their ideas batting together like colorful helium balloons at a party rather than like two boxers slugging it out inside the square circle and all those tough guy cliches.

Have I grown up?  Or has this whole getting married thing softened me?  I'm like Cass when she first learned to understand spoken language and it fritzed up her fighting skills!  Oh no!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The news for Cass Cain so far this week is... no news!

I just did my daily Cass search and no one is talking about her today.  Unless it's buried in some message board discussion, in which case I haven't read it because who has the time?  Even for a dedicated Cass fanatic like me there's only so much detective work I can do.

Here at work.

If I had the day off I'd do a few Cass doodles and post them here.  I have a new "Cass vs." fight coming soon.  It's one I consider the best yet, although I'm partial to the one where I have her fight the 4077th MASH for reasons known but to my subconscious.  Look for more of those whenever an impish mood strikes (and I have the time to indulge), plus reviews of every single issue of Batgirl starring Cass.  Sometime this week or over my winter break I'm going to edit some old essays I wrote about Cass-- and take out things I now believe to be wrong or stupid-- then post them here, too.

Content suggestions are very welcome.  Got an aspect of Cass you'd like to see explored, discussed, pondered, mistaken, confused or rendered impossibly obtuse?  Let me know and I'll take care of it for you.

And finally-- the best thing that's happened around here is someone commented.  Madeleine M., you made my weekend!  Comments on this blog are slightly less rare than Cass Cain appearances in the New 52.  And that means they're very much appreciated.  I tried to reply but Blogger's acting a little funny.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cassandra Cain versus M*A*S*H

Imagine a time-displaced Batgirl finding herself dropped into the war-torn hills of 1951 Korea.  Or, if you prefer, the pretend war-torn hills of 1970s southern California.  What would happen if Cass found herself at war with the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital?  Of course, I'm talking the TV version, not the Robert Altman film.

Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce.  Hawkeye doesn't present much of a physical challenge to Cass.  He's either exhausted from hours of meatball surgery or else hung over from some down-time debauchery involving home-brewed martinis and a nurse or two.  Or else he's waxing maudlin over some heartbreaking aspect of the Korean War.  Hawkeye isn't much on fighting and generally refuses to participate in calisthenics, preferring more leisurely pursuits as golf, womanizing and being sanctimonious.  Cass has Hawkeye down and out of the fight faster than you can write "Dear Dad" or order ribs from your favorite barbecue restaurant back in the States.

Captain John "Trapper John" McIntyre.  This depends on what era of M*A*S*H Cass encounters.  But in order to explore this possibility completely, we have to consider all the characters.  Trapper John is slightly more a physically challenging specimen than Hawkeye, but is similarly worn down by the rigors of combat medicine and likely drunk as well.  Cass soon disables him and moves on to her next opponent.

Major Frank Burns.  Burns talks a good game, but he's generally craven and ineffectual.  When his facade of military authority gives way in the face of Cass's inability to understand Burns's verbal orders and bluster, the hapless and largely incompetent doctor falls to his knees and pleads for mercy, citing his wife and children back home.  Cass can't understand this either, and rocks Burns to sleep with a quick multi-punch combo or roundhouse kick to the head.

Captain B.J. Hunnicutt.  Replacing McIntyre, Hunnicutt attempts to fool Cass with one of his ingenious practical jokes, and with a fall-back plan to distract her with a heartwarming anecdote about his beloved wife Peg.  The joke provides just enough of a delay to allow Hunnicutt to dye his hair and mustache bright red and then ride off on his motorcycle before Cass can grapple with him.  The Peg anecdote would not help, so it's just as well Hunnicutt never has to use it.

Major Charles Emerson Winchester III.  Large-framed and patrician, Winchester deploys condescension and pretentiousness in an effort to thwart Cass's relentless assault.  Undaunted, Cass presses her attack.  Fortunately for the Boston-born Winchester, Cass is somewhat gentled by his desperate ploy of having a small group of North Korean prisoners serenade her with classical music.  As a result, Cass uses a relatively painless choke-hold to subdue him.

Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan.  Cass's most formidable foe amongst the 4077th personnel, but her Regular Army ways and training are still no match whatsoever for Cass's almost superhuman martial arts skills.  Fearless to a fault, Houlihan witnesses the pathetic display by Burns and, angered at his mentioning of his stateside family, takes the fight to Cass only to fall within seconds.  In her unconscious state, Houlihan dreams of her former husband Lt. Col. Donald Penobscot and wearing a bloody wedding dress while tending to wounded G.I.s.

Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly.  Possessed of a predictive ability that rivals Cass's, Radar manages to avoid Cass's first assault, but soon must engage her mano-a-mano.  Resorting to his little-used basic combat training and then using his teddy bear as a cudgel, Radar is barely a blip in Cass's path.  This fight is the second shortest, after the Burns match-up.  Cass pauses a moment to kiss Radar's forehead and experiences a pang of regret.

Lt. Colonel Henry Blake.  Laid-back and avuncular under ordinary circumstances, yet ervous and high-strung in a fight, Blake nevertheless attempts to defend himself with his service pistol.  Cass quickly disarms him and sends him packing, where he meets his fate over the Japan Sea.  Eyes tear up across the nation, but Carol Burnett offers a happier alternative the next night.

Colonel Sherman T. Potter.  A toughened former cavalryman and veteran of both World Wars, Potter is way too aged to fight Cass one-on-one.  Still, the conscientious commanding officer bravely refuses to surrender his post or abandon his people.  After reluctantly but shrewdly calling in an artillery strike on the hospital camp itself, which Cass survives by hiding in a slit trench, Potter mounts his horse Sophie and attempts an old-fashioned cavalry charge.  Horse and rider succumb to a whirlwind Cass counterattack, but in deference to Potter's advanced age and brittle bones, Cass again relies on relatively painless techniques against the colonel.  Sophie she allows to wander free.  Under the guidance of Dr. Sidney Freedman, and in order to facilitate his recovery, Potter later therapeutically paints a portrait of Cass from memory.

Nurse Kealani Kellye.  She confronts Cass with an impassioned speech about feeling unappreciated and ignored, but Cass can't make heads or tails of it.  Confused, Cass simply slips around her, leaving Nurse Kellye to look within and discover her own path to self-esteem.

Corporal/(later) Sergeant Maxwell Q. Klinger.  Master of disguise Klinger dons traditional Korean women's dress borrowed from his wife Soon-Lee and the two of them escape back to Toledo and set up housekeeping, relieved at Klinger's not having to get his ass kicked.  After the war, they invite Cass to dinner where she's entertained by their body language as the marrieds bicker over the results of Klinger's latest somewhat shady money-making scheme.  Cass is able to convince Bruce Wayne to bail them out financially and they live happily ever after.  For the most part.

Colonel Flagg.  The menacing yet obtuse counterintelligence officer is the most competent fighter Cass must face at the 4077th.  He accuses Cass of Communist subversion and tells her in a clipped voice about causing his own father to have to wear orthopedic shirts, but once they begin to fight it doesn't take Cass too long to penetrate Flagg's defenses and land a knock-out blow-- a straight kick to the chin.  Regaining consciousness later, Flagg tells no one he's the wind, then leaps out a window and breaks his leg while attempting to escape and report on Cass's activities to his superiors.  Cass secretly thinks of him as alarmingly similar to her mentor, Batman.

First Lieutenant/(later) Captain Father John Patrick Francis Mulcahey.  Come on!  What are you thinking?  Cass doesn't fight Father Mulcahey.  He does attempt to physically restrain her at one point and angrily denounces her propensity for violence, but they don't exactly tangle.  He's present at the Klinger dinner later where he tipsily commends Cass for her "jocularity."  She has no idea what the word means.

Check out the sticky sweet cinnamon bun that is the drawing of Li'l Cass and Li'l Steph

My evil heart revolts at these things, but even I have to admit this is as adorable as... well, whatever you think is adorable.  Sometimes you just have to give into the cuteness.  Especially this time of year when hearts larger and less shriveled than mine are merry.

I have no idea what "Sugar Rush Racer" is.

More reaction to the Gail Simone firing...

DC Women Kicking Ass has a sharp take on DC's abrupt and low-class firing of one of their top writers and New 52 cheerleaders, but it's one of the comments that inspired I found intriguing.  Here it is:

 "I think Marvel or any other company would welcome her with open arms." --jayb3 

 If Marvel is smart, they'll immediately announce they've offered a top-flight title to Simone.  I have no idea what her reaction to that would be and I wouldn't want to speculate, but the evil Texas businessperson side of me can't help but hope something like this happens.

In fact, if I were J.R. Bryan, Stetson-wearing editor-in-chief of Marvel, I'd be on the phone with Simone today with a Southern-accented sales pitch along these lines:

"I want to hire you right this minute.  We've got an idea that Dani Moonstar and Xi'an Coy Manh are so sick of all the factions and in-fighting among the X-Men they've decided to buy a van and travel these United States lending a helping hand to those in need.  Kinda like that ol' Lee Van Cleef-Timothy Van Patten show The Master, only awesome because you're writing it.  Other than that basic concept, you've got carte blanche to do whatever you want, set the tone, add other members to the cast, no one's off limits, slap any title you like on there and we're gonna give you a big PR push in the media and at the conventions.  How 'bout it?"

I predict at least 50k in sales.  At least.  And I do know Ms. Simone is a lot classier than I am.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gail Simone off Batgirl...

Not Cass Batgirl, obviously.

You know, I haven't read that much of Gail Simone's comic book writing.  A few issues of Birds of Prey and one of the new Batgirl, a smattering of her decent but not world-beating Gen13 relaunch, and that's it.  I hated, hated, hated her "Angel of the Bat" proposal for Cass Cain.  It just seemed forced and wrong.  Sometimes sending a character off on an unexpected tangent works, and that just wasn't going to be it.  It was too much like "Frank Castle, Demon Hunter" or whatever it was Marvel did to the Punisher for a while before they took him back to his roots and made the character relevant again-- with two crappy movies to show for it, two more than Cass will ever have.

But I have read a number of Simone's message board posts where she's engaged with other creators-- sometimes contentiously-- and fans and she's often been my hero of the moment.  Scoring points, fighting the good fight, taking the high road and other such cliches you use when someone impresses you with his or her discourse.  People dig her writing, but professionals and fans also like her as a person and with good reason.

Gail Simone was the one saving grace in all the reboot turmoil, all the clumsy re-configuring of continuity and the whimsical explanations for various inconsistencies and character omissions.  Plus the largely ugly costume updates.  Yikes.  And with her dedicated fan base, she was the one person who could have possibly taken Barbara Gordon from Oracle back to Batgirl with all the problematic changes that involved-- essentially killing off a character/concept with a lot of symbolic importance for a number of readers, pushing aside another fan-fave character-- without a comic fan apocalypse.  Without having hundreds of fans storm the DC offices as if it were the Bastille (the regime in control of which the upper management there is increasingly resembling).  Even with her involvement it was a near thing.  Through it all she displayed nothing less than class.  Just a first rate performance as a creator being scrutinized under the harshest of lights, in a pressure-filled moment.  Grace under pressure.

She's doing it again under much worse circumstances right now, too.

I have no idea what goes on at DC Comics.  I'm not a fan of the New 52 and just about the only current character I like at all is Katana (with the best costume at DC now that Black Bat is defunct).  They don't seem to make many decisions aimed at bringing me back as a reader, unless it's something to do with their back catalog and, frankly, Marvel and Dark Horse both own them there.  The creator turnover lately has been troubling.  There's probably some good reason for dumping a writer from a title that's aces with both the critics and the money-paying fans.  As a non-professional, non-industry, outsider type person I can't imagine what that might be.  But I do think firing someone (especially someone who's had DC's back the way Simone has for the last few years) via e-mail is a tasteless move by someone who knows full well what being fired in a tasteless move feels like.  He's also managed to wreck the next writer and probably scuttle the book entirely.

Anyway, that's my take on this.  The next few days should be quite interesting!

Cass lives in the Previews catalog!

Well, in chess piece form.  Yes, it's the fantastic little Cassandra Cain as Black Bat chess pawn we've talked about before.  You know, in the imaginary conversation between this blog writer and you, the blog reader.  Bleeding Cool adds another voice to the pro-Cass din and clamor that even now grows from... oh... twenty people to almost thirty.  What I like about the Bleeding Cool article is how they point out what a great costume she has as Black Bat.

I'd suggest a couple of changes-- ditch the claw-fingers and pull that hair back into a more practical bun to keep it out of her eyes (she's a fighter, for crying out loud and would be very pragmatic about such things)-- but I have to agree.  Wonderful costume design.  Simple and dramatic.  You can hardly go wrong with basic black and the white hand wraps are a nice contrasting visual element it would be fun to draw as blurs when Cass unloads on some poor thug or villain or super-miscreant.  I like to draw Batgirl Cass mask-less, so a costume with an actual face is a plus as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

One of the nicest things ever written about Cassandra Cain

I love this!  I do a Cass Google search every single day in hopes of finding exactly these kinds of things.  In this case, it's a short, friendly-voiced essay that explains exactly why DC needs Cass now more than ever.

You know, it's kind of a downer to be practically the only pro-Cass voice still out here, trying to keep the character alive in fandom.  Every so often I see a little light in the darkness, like "Fight On, Cass" the other day and now this.  Just a random comic opened, out tumbles Cass, new fan.  It's similar to how I became a Cass fan.  I impulse bought an issue of Batgirl at a supermarket and found myself instantly hooked.

And I have to echo Ms. Chan's final sentiment-- please bring back Cassandra Cain, DC!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

January 26, 2013-- Another pro-Cassandra Cain campaign!

There are only two places that regularly talk about Cass these days and if you're reading this, then you've found one of them.  The other is The Outhouse, which usually pokes satirical fun at both Cass and Stephanie Brown's fanbase in Sean O'Neal-Onion A/V Club-newsfeed-style posts by someone calling himself Jude Terror.  Terror, as his nom de guerre implies, practices a type of slash-and-burn humor.  Since I sometimes do the same thing and because I try to be laid back about these things and poke fun at myself as well, Terror's posts aren't anything I get upset about.  At least he's writing about Cass.

Zechs, however, seems to be genuine.  Either that, or he is weaving the silken web of deceit into a cloak of devilishly subtle satirical artistry (in which case I must kneel and kiss the ring of a true master).  Here's Zech's new pro-Cass suggestion, which will probably prove about as successful as the Save Cass Campaign from last fall but is worth a shot because at this point anything is better than nothing.

Come January 26, 2013, Zechs asks all Cass fans everywhere to go to Comixology and buy Batgirl #37.  Why that issue and not #1 again?  Because it's Cass's birthday (I need to go back and read this again because I'm not sure if that's her biological birthday; I'm pretty sure in #36 she and Batman arbitrarily chose another day as a kiss off to bio-dad David Cain).  It's also the final issue by Kelley Puckett and Damian Scott.  Zechs also has a few other smart reasons contrasted with last August's Support Cass Day.  If you're in, you should try to publicize this far and wide, on your blogs, your Tumblrs, various message boards.  Reach out to other Cass fans and stir things up.

So, are we up for this?  All twenty of us?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Brave and the Bold: "Imasucker Proxy" edition

That's right.  Comic book fandom.  It's May 2006.  Anyway, for a few more minutes it is.  Come midnight it's gonna be June.  A whole 'nother feeling.  A new issue of Robin.  The future.  Yeah, ol' DC Comics fixin' to put out one more comic and everybody hopin' this one be a little more giddy, a little more gay because Cassandra Cain gonna make her post-"One Year Later" debut.  Yep, all over town champagne corks is a-poppin'.  Over at DC's offices the big shots is dancin' to the strains of Gwen Stefani and Pussycat Dolls.  Down at the comic shops, the little folks is a-watchin' and waitin' for that new comic magazine to drop.  They all tryin' to catch hold of one superhero story.  To be able to say, "Right now!  This is it!  I got it!  Cass is back!"  'Course, by then it'll be past.  But they all happy, everybody havin' a good time.  Well, almost everybody.

They's a few lost souls floatin' around out there.  Now, if ya'll ain't from comics fandom, we have something here called "the Cass fan."  Got a way of bein' chewed up by editorial and creative decisions so that they don't want no celebrating, they don't want no cheerin' up, and they don't care nothing 'bout no Tim Drake.  Out of hope, out of rope.  Out of time.

This here is Joel Bryan from Cass-O-Rama.  That comic book he's steppin' out of is the home of one of those Cass stories.  It's Robin's home.  How'd he get so high?  And why is he feelin' so low?  Is he really gonna do it?  Is this Cass fan really gonna jelly up the sidewalk?  Well, the future, that's something you can't never tell about. But the past, that's another story...

One thing I did after I graduated from Muncie College of Business Administration was come up with an out-of-continuity version of the Teen Titans.  You know, for kids.  I loosely on the old school 1960s version of the team, but updated with 2000s style concerns and a warm and optimistic vibe rather than dark and cold.  I drew a lot of character design sketches and even plotted the first six or so issues.  Lots of goofy hijinks but plenty serious elements, too.  Life isn't all fun and games, and I didn't want to deny that.  Bullying, sexism, racism, drug abuse, homophobia, the search for identity and loneliness are all very real.  I wanted to address these social issues, but show some smart, can-do, community-involved teens handling them as best they could.  Not that tired cliche of "trying to find [their] place in this world," (generally used as an excuse for a lot of would-be tragic self-destructive behavior and acting out) but the other one about "trying to make this world a better place."  And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.

I guess my dream Teen Titans are kids who act as a super-powered Volunteer Committee, one committed to improving their world rather than the stereotypical sullen, confused, angry, selfish, rebellious type teens who end up fighting their adult mentors and all that.  Kind of an antidote to the confused, angsty Supergirl and villainous Cass then current in DC continuity.

But it needed a set-up.  My idea was having ultra-smart, ultra-capable but sometimes in-over-her-head Supergirl learning about the silent Batgirl of Gotham City and trying to befriend her, despite being warned off by Batman and even Superman.  For her part, Batgirl is just confused about the whole concept of friendship.  You can't beat anyone with it, so what good is it?  She's also not sure she deserves friends-- this Cass is still wracked with guilt at having murdered, afraid Batman will find out about it and fighting that infamous death wish.  All of this just makes Supergirl that much more determined to become her friend.  She can't leave well enough alone.

This part of the story is probably derivative, but I wanted to plunge both characters into an almost impossible situation.  Darkseid, sick of Superman and wanting to crush the Man of Steel's spirit by hitting him where he's most vulnerable (his human, caring heart) and expand his own power base, sends some of his soldiers to kidnap Supergirl.  They find her during one of her attempts to communicate with Batgirl.  A fight, and Supergirl is overcome via some sort of device that saps her of her self-confidence and self-worth, leaving her somewhat de-powered.  They overmatch Batgirl and toss her aside but fail to reckon with her unstoppable will to fight on no matter what.  Just as the minions of Apokolips leave in a Boom Tube, Batgirl leaps in.

Once in Darkseid's presence, Batgirl confounds the tyrant but can't elude his soldiers.  She's tossed to the Female Furies for whatever use they see fit-- a training dummy or pet.  Meanwhile, Darkseid and Desaad place the weakened Supergirl in a machine meant to bombard her with despair long enough to break her will.  Then they plan to rebuild her psyche in the corrupt image of an Apokolipsian warrior and use her against Superman.

Batgirl spars with the Female Furies and comes off worst, but finds herself fascinated by their warrior ethos.  She comes to admire them and desperately wants to join their ranks.  She won't take no for an answer even if it means death.

Supergirl, suffering inside the machine where she's experiencing the death of Argo City over and over-- Darkseid wants to teach her the meaninglessness of hope-- suddenly comes to a calm place where she meets none other than Christopher Columbus, who claims he's there as a hero guide.  Supergirl is aghast.  Why couldn't it be Superman, Wonder Woman, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Indira Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Patti Smith or anyone but Christopher Columbus.  She calls him out for being the bringer of disease and misery for so many Native Americans.  This Columbus protests he's not the Columbus of history but rather the idealized one from out-dated school books and outdated history lessons.  The heroic one divorced from reality that millions of American schookids used to look up to.  He's not even speaking Italian, for corn's sake.

Supergirl is less than convinced and still none too happy to have even the Platonic ideal of Columbus as her spirit guide, but it can't be helped.  Their confrontation rekindles hope inside her and she realizes as long as she has even one little spark, one little ember of positive thinking left, she can stoke up the fire in her heart.  Regaining her strength and mustering an amazing amount of willpower and innate self-confidence-- anything is possible-- she bursts from the machine and destroys it in the process.

Darkseid knows he's failed and his only recourse is the kill Supergirl.  Pursued by his armies, Supergirl takes flight.  She fully believes she has no chance of survival, but she's going to give it all she's got and create a legend among the battered spirits of Apokolips in hopes of inspiring them one day to revolt against Darkseid and throw off his chains of oppression.

Superman, having discussed with Batman the situation between the two girls, has gone looking for Supergirl and traced the Boom Tube particles back to Apokolips.  He shows up in time to find a Batgirl joyfully waging her own futile combat against the Female Furies.  Batgirl has found her own place of hope, which, ironically, is one of strife and warfare she is bound to lose in the end.  Superman helps her rout the Furies, who grudgingly give ground and declare their respect for Batgirl as a having "potential" for greatness.  With Batgirl safe, Superman is able to quiz her-- after a fashion-- about what's happened.  He leaves her in the care of the Furies while he flies off to rescue Supergirl.

Supergirl is fighting her last stand.  She's defeated dozens of Darkseid's best and now Darkseid himself is about to unleash a final, annihilating force against her when Superman appears.  Together, the heroes defeat Darkseid, with Superman telling his young cousin how proud he is of her.  Darkseid leaves to plot again.  A quick rendezvous with Batgirl and the three head back to earth.

Batgirl and Supergirl forge their friendship, which will lead to the formation of a new Teen Titans team.  Then they go their separate ways.  For now.

And that's the story of how Joel Bryan climbed waaay up to the one hundred and forty-ninth issue of the Robin comic, and then fell all the way down but didn't quite squish hisself. You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the one hundred FIFTIETH issue? But that's another story.

Cassandra Cain makes the list of "DC Comics's Most Divisive Characters"

Sort of.  She gets a passing mention as one of the "Forgotten Characters," along with Donna Troy and Wally West.

Now, you may be too young to remember, but there was a time when she was an active character and dividing fans.  It was around the time of "One Year Later," when I was blogging about her and a few others here and there were also adding their pro and con views on Cass.  I remember one particularly trenchant and well-written anti-Cass piece entitled "Of Course She Is" or something along those lines.  It was one I obviously disagreed with-- and I've forgotten the specifics now but you can probably Google it and bring them to my attention for what it's worth so many years later-- but those were days when mighty voices made thunderous noise from their blog mountaintops and even those of us in opposition did listen to the din and tremble before launching our own lightning bolts. gives good ol' Stephanie Brown her own entry but you know what?  I don't see her so much as divisive as uniting.  I made a little joke about her a while back, a Steph fan took it to her own blog and she and her friends decapitated it and kicked the head around like a soccer ball.  Roasted the body and displayed the charcoaled bones on their sacred purple bat-shaped altar.  That's how I learned that my, my, you do not want to mess with Steph fans.  The list even talks about Steph as being symbolic for those not too pleased with the whole of DC's New 52.  Rally 'round the Steph, people!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cassandra Cain versus a marker drawing!

This is a marker sketch from my own little sketchbook. I did this many years ago, back when DC decided Cass was an evil Dragon Lady with an eye for Robin. To wash away the stink of that ill-chosen storyline, I designed my own Cass, one who wore a version of the original Barbara Gordon Batgirl costume with a short cape as merely an accent piece and no mask whatsoever because she just did not give a damn about hiding her face.  I can't remember the model I chose for this drawing.  The post just felt appropriate.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cassandra Cain versus Iron Fist!

It's fun to pit characters from one company against characters from another.  After all, now that Cass doesn't exist, any fight between her and another character is strictly hypothetical, so why not be the hypo-ist of the thetical?  I seem to toss Cass up against heroes, though.  I enjoy that more than a hero-villain dust up and the results are easier to plan or predict.  A discussion I didn't bother to read on Comic Vine inspired this, the latest entry in my "Cassandra Cain versus" series.

What happens when martial artist Cass fights martial artist Iron Fist?

All things being equal, she absolutely would win with her move predictive ability and resulting defensive superiority, while matching Iron Fist's offensive skills.  Perhaps she's not as physically strong as he is, but she'd make up for that with speed and endurance.  She would also be learning his techniques as they fought, thus gaining all of his skills plus her own.

Unfortunately, all things aren't equal.  Danny "Iron Fist" Rand has a lot of supernatural/metaphysical martial arts powers that, frankly, put him out of Cass's class, so I seriously doubt she could defeat him.  Iron Fist could focus his chi and overmatch Cass in every category and she couldn't learn those things simply by observing and sparring anymore than she could learn Spider-Man's spider-sense or Mr. Fantastic's stretching ability.  Cass has a chance if she somehow provoked Iron Fist into using his "iron fist" ability, somehow dodged the strike, then counter-attacked while he was drained.

Failing that, her only course would be purely defensive-- staying out of Iron Fist's reach and then escaping.  Sorry, Cass.  If it's any consolation, I'm pretty sure you could beat Shang-Chi, master of Kung Fu, and he's no slouch himself.

And breathe out...

Well, I guess that's all for the James Gunn controversy. Gunn has issued an apology and it's up to the offended either to accept or reject it. I have been only a concerned bystander who happens to think his comments were stupid, so I can do neither of those things. I can only hope this dialogue-- one of many occurring each year, it seems-- will have a positive effect on fan discourse regarding female and LGBT comic book characters.  We'll have to come up with an amusing name for this mess when we wrap up all the year's comic book news, but for now it's time for Cass to slip back into her toxic, non-entity status where she'll only be discussed here on this lonely little blog or else occasionally mocked on The Outhouse.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More on James Gunn and a question about sex...

The James Gunn "sex with superheroes" list fall out continues with more interesting and thoughtful commentary from Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress.*  Yeah, I found this doing yet another melancholy Google search for some new Cassandra Cain news, read it and liked what she had to say, plus she also mentions Cass's entry, so I'm linking to it here.  I'm pretty sure ol' David Cain taught Cass to kill before she was eight years old, but that aside, I have a question. 

The three essays I've linked to here each talk about how it's not the list itself that's wrong, just the asinine commentary.  I think the same, but at the same time I can't say I've spent much time pondering which superheroes I'd sleep with.  They're not real people, are frequently poorly written and the drawings of them can be grotesque-- hence the term "Escher girl," which is gaining currency-- so I can't really parse the notion of wanting to have sex with a comic book character as anything more than a joke.

Yes, I appreciate good girl art or cheesecake drawings, especially when they're by someone like the late master Dave Stevens or Adam Hughes, and like cute, appealing stuff by Rumiko Takahashi and even Bryan Lee O'Malley, but none of that makes me want to sleep with the characters no matter how awesome or cool or kick-ass they might be in the stories.  Years ago, I worked with a guy who made a lot of noise about having a huge thing for Shampoo from Ranma 1/2, but I just shrugged.  Good luck with that, man.

The closest I probably came to having these fantasies about any comic book character would have to be when I was around 14 and obsessed with Dani Moonstar from New Mutants.  We were the same age, so it seemed a natural fit.  A lot of it was tangled up with wanting to be her, but pretty soon I realized that was only slightly less likely than meeting anyone like her in real life and I moved on to crushes on actual people.  And from there to real relationships.

I just prefer my fantasy characters hooking up with each other in the stories (if they must) and keeping my reality apart from that.  Gunn makes a snide comment on his list about a drawing of Starfire ruining real women for him, and even though I know that's just a joke and not true at all, I'd have to say I feel just the opposite.  Real women have ruined funny book characters for me, so I can't really feel sexual attraction to some two dimensional image with a one dimensional personality.  Even if the character is richly written and complex, I'm still kind of, "Well, I like reading about her, but she doesn't exist and there are so many fascinating people in the real world for me to meet, so why get hung up on some ink on paper?"

Actually, I don't even have to tell myself that.

For example, I'm a big Cass Cain fan ("Really?!" you say in astonishment), but I've never given even a moment's consideration to sleeping with her.  It's just never crossed my mind.  I think she's cool, yeah.  I've had a few idle wishes that I were here so I could have wild and crazy adventures, but that's it.  That she's one of the few female characters not particularly sexualized-- her few desultory experiments with being "sexy" according to the Barbara Gordon model didn't exactly work out for her-- is hardly the point for me.  I don't feel any physical attraction to the overtly sexy characters, either.  Starfire, She-Hulk, Power Girl, Dark Phoenix, evil Mary Marvel, evil Invisible Woman, Star Sapphire, the Gen13 girls.  Nothing.

Don't think I'm saying you can't fantasize about superhero sex while being in a relationship with a real person.  You absolutely can.  I feel certain doing so is part of a healthy sexual imagination, as opposed to exclusively fantasizing about comic book characters to the exclusion of all other relationships.  I don't do it, but lists like this make me curious, as does all the sexy fan fic out there.  How many people seriously give thought to what superheroes-- or any fictional characters, for that matter-- they want to have sex with?

I'm guessing I must be the odd person out here, especially within genre fandom, but I'd really like to know.

*It's even on Huffington Post now!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

James Gunn splatters mud on Cass's cape as well!

You already know what this is about.  Some stupid poll about what superhero you want to have sex with, and film director James Gunn's notes about each entry.  It's over a year old, but journalist/essayist Susana Polo of the website The Mary Sue recently found it and tore it apart for the "slut-shaming, homophobic" junk it is.  And now it's a huge thing with a lot of people sharing their opinions.  That Gunn is the director for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film with none other than Joss Whedon's endorsement has certainly raised the stakes for comic book fans.  Whedon!

I'm pretty sure I read this very list a long time ago and thought it was a stupid attempt at rude dude humor, the kind of frat boyish junk that didn't amuse me even when I was young enough to be a frat boy, then flushed it down the memory-toilet to who knows where.  My subconscious or whatever.  Flash forward to this morning.  I fired up my work computer, did my usual quick Google search for anything new having to do with Cassandra Cain and waded into this huge stinking mess, a backed-up septic tank of a mess.  I knew I shouldn't have flushed it, but it was easier than dropping it in the garbage can and having the sanitation workers judge me.  Lesson learned.

Living 12 hours in the future here in Japan-- at least compared to my North American friends-- I'm hours late to this party.  Everyone has already said all that needed to be said.  But because I'm practically the only Cassandra Cain blogger left standing, and like Cass I never, ever quit, I'm going to weigh in just a little bit here.

Look, I love satire and absurdist humor.  I've already been in trouble with Stephanie Brown and Tim Drake fans due to my use of the latter.  Even if Gunn's intent was merely to spoof the stereotypical men's magazine take on superheroes, sexuality and gender, he's failed.  I agree with Rachel Edidin the root of his failure is his over-the-top voice is actually the in-the-middle voice of a lot of people involved in the comics industry, both professionally and as fans (as well as with her description of Gunn's commentary as "fucked up").  The kind of thing where people don't read it and think, "Gosh, I've been wrong-minded just like the guy Gunn's pretending to be and now I'm gonna change," but one where they shout, "FUCK YEAH!  PREACH ON, BROTHER GUNN!" while their next-door neighbors pound the wall they share and yell, "SHUT UP! WHAT ARE YOU SCREAMING AT?  WE KNOW YOU'RE IN YOUR APARTMENT ALONE, YOU NOISY ASS!"

And that's really sad.  Not my angry neighbors scenario, but the very real situation where what Gunn might think is out there is really quite in there.  It's really hard to top some of the crazy junk I read back in the day when I was a more active participant in the comic fan wars over misogyny and homophobia, the kind of stuff people still post on message boards all over, or the way actual comic books from certain top companies tend to deal with characters and even fans, which at times is shockingly suspect.

So while many people have already hammered Gunn and his attempt at humor or whatever it was with a lot of points I don't feel like repeating here despite agreeing with them, I also feel a strange little pleasure in having Cass talked about at all, even in a minor way.  There's rarely anything new about her online these days unless it's something stupid by me, and if Polo's tossing her name in there brings a few more people to the discussion and makes them seriously think over these issues, then as a character, she's accomplished something positive.

Also... I did not know Stephanie Brown gave birth and put her baby up for adoption.  Huh.  That's interesting.  I didn't know this because my only information about Ms. Brown comes from her appearances in Cass's old Batgirl book in which I don't believe they ever ever discussed the issue, at least not on panel.  I could be wrong.  There are a few issues towards the end of the run where I'm a little hazy on the details due to having read them only once or twice.  I tend to re-read the earlier, more kick-ass issues when Cass was on her game, and the ones drawn by Rick Leonardi because they're beautiful and I enjoy looking at beautiful comic book artwork.  So those I know more about.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cassandra Cain versus the Incredible Hulk!

This one is easy to call.  Of course Batgirl Cass loses to the Hulk, but after a year or two of experience and further training, Black Bat Cass easily takes down the Jade Giant.  It happens like this...

Okay, okay.  That was silly.  Almost as silly as imagining a fight between Cassandra Cain and the Incredible Hulk in the first place.  It wouldn't really matter which version of Cass fight the Hulk, the Hulk would win.  The Hulk defeats most heroes and villains because he's fast, gets stronger the angrier you make him (you know, by doing things like... oh... fighting him), he's indefatigable and close to invulnerable.  The Hulk is a Superman-level opponent.  He's thumped the Thing on several occasions, after all.  Cass has no business fighting the Hulk.

I do remember a comic where Batman tangled with the Hulk and slapped his ears, causing the Hulk to release him from a crushing bear hug.  A writer taking liberties.  First of all, the Hulk could literally squish Batman between his hands and second of all, I seriously doubt Batman has the physical strength to pop the Hulk's ears.  So I don't see Cass faring any better if the Hulk should somehow turn up in Gotham City.  What she would do is try to distract him and delay him long enough for the Justice League and the Avengers to come to the rescue.  The Hulk and the super-teams would destroy large portions of central Gotham in the ensuing battle, which Cass, Spoiler and the Robins would largely serve as observers of, while rescuing what citizens they could.

After the Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner and S.H.I.E.L.D. takes him away (Project Cadmus wants him for DNA testing, but Banner falls under the Marvel jurisdiction), Batman grudgingly tells Cass she did a good job, but only after Barbara Gordon shames him into doing so.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Cassandra Cain as Black Bat custom action figure...

Because Cassandra Cain has never really gotten the toy love she deserves-- most Batgirl figures have been of the Barbara Gordon variety, which makes sense because she's the character the rest of the world tends to associate with the identity-- she's been turned into some sweet customs here and there.  Here's a link to a very slick-looking Black Bat custom job.  The smirk is decidedly un-Cass-like, but the costume is perfect.  Actually, the Black Bat identity is more interesting to me as a custom possibility because of the exposed face and hair, the challenge of doing that pointy domino mask and the interesting texture and contrast of the forearm wraps.

I'm going to keep an eye out for more of these.

I love custom action figures.  When I was a kid, I was forever painting up different figures to supply cast members of whatever imaginative adventure I'd dreamed up.  Of course, mine were rinky-dink efforts compared to some of the skilled craftspeople you encounter online.  My idea of a sweet custom was taking a banged-up Kenner C3P0 and painting him blue to represent Han Solo's old droid buddy Blue Max (although he looked more like this custom) from the Brian Daley novels, or painting some greenish-gold Acroyear parts red to make the exiled king from the Marvel Micronauts comics.  A couple of years ago I accumulated the raw materials for a Battle Royale Chiaki Kuriyama 1/6th figure but realized I just didn't have the skills to finish the job (someone made a nice one from a Gogo Yubari figure, though).  These people today with their 3D printers and their Super Sculpey and whatnot occasionally produce amazing models that look better than a lot of the stuff you can buy from legitimate toy companies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cassandra Cain Versus Delta Tau Chi!

Those crazy Deltas.  Always pulling pranks on Dean Wormer.  Always throwing toga parties.  Exploding toilets, filling the trees around campus with underwear, dumping a whole truckload of fizzies into the swim meet, having the medical school cadavers delivered to the alumni dinner.  Finally crashing the Faber College Homecoming parade and causing untold damage to the community resulting in bankruptcy of DePasto Auto Sales, plus the end of Wormer's academic career in the ensuing scandal over his high-handed tactics as a school administrator.

Yes, the Deltas defeated Dean Wormer and the snobbish WASP-types of the Omega Theta Pi fraternity who were so willing to do his dirty work and ended up in various fascistic establishment jobs such as Army officer and Nixon White House aide.  But how would they fare against DC's greatest martial artist, a young woman raised from infancy with violence as her native language?

Let's find out!

Flounder.  As easy take-down for Cass, Flounder offers little to no resistance whatsoever.  He might try to trip her up by throwing six thousand marbles at her feet, but she could easily anticipate such a move and leap to firmer footing, then swiftly close the distance, at which point Flounder has no natural defenses.  A quick grasp of his untucked pajama bottoms and Flounder finds himself vulnerable to all kinds of choke holds and close-quarter combat moves.

Pinto.  Slender and in better shape than his friend Flounder, Pinto is similarly overmatched by Cass.  His sole chance would be to disorient her with his high-pitched giggle, but there is little chance of this providing more than a moment's hesitation on Cass's part.

Stork.  Perhaps the most unusual looking of the Deltas with his odd haircut and long raincoat, Stork has no defensive or offensive techniques beyond perhaps calling Cass a "MOE-RON!"  Since this would be meaningless sound to her, she'd quickly make hash of the Stork, perhaps giving him real brain-damage to go with the assumed.

Mothball.  A generic Delta pledge, he would go down quickly having made little or no impression on Cass.

Hoover.  His main defense is to try to reason with Cass using his superior communication and persuasive skills.  However he would fail because Cass doesn't understand human language.  She would comprehend his defensive body posture, and while he's larger and somewhat more physically capable than Pinto, the fight would last no longer and the result would be the same.

Boon.  Boon relies mostly on evasion and his quick wit, neither of which would have much effect on Cass. A characteristic Boon tactic is to pretend to dance with his opponent, then to fall limp in his or her arms.  Cass could predict the final move, allow Boon to drop to the ground, then bring her foot down on his face, rendering him unconscious at once.  Alternately, she might then clamber on top of him and attempt an arm bar or an ankle lock, snapping the bone if Boon refuses to tap out.

Otter.  Otter has a certain smarmy charm and ability as a ladies' man, but Cass would dodge his sexual entreaties and malaprop double entrendres regarding cucumbers and administer a swift beating to Otter, perhaps blackening one of his eyes and disheveling the shirt underneath his sweater.  He does have a  decent right cross, but there's absolutely no chance he would get a chance to land it.

D-Day.  Fight incomplete.  Current whereabouts unknown.

Bluto.  A force of nature, and possessed of limitless endurance and the ability to rapidly chug an entire fifth of Jack Daniels in a matter of seconds, Bluto would nevertheless succumb to Cass's superior fighting skills.  She might find herself surprised momentarily by Bluto's near-superhuman resilience, but in the end she'd still find his weak point and incapacitate him in a way mere alcohol seems unable to.

The chances of Cass having to fight the Deltas are very small.  It's more likely she'd find her opponents from among the following:

The Faber College ROTC.  Led by cadet officer Douglas C. Neidermeyer and numbering among its ranks one freshman recruit Chip Diller, the ROTC aligns itself with the more authoritarian Omegas rather than the free-spirited, anarchic Deltas.  A likely scenario finds Dean Wormer calling upon the ROTC to attempt to capture or perhaps (in the case of Neidermeyer, who carries a live round just in case) kill Cass to prevent campus unrest as per a little known codicil to the Faber College constitution, and the resulting battle would end in much the same way as the infamous Blutarsky Cafeteria Incident:  with a badly injured Neidermeyer trapped underneath a pile of uniformed figures, only this time all of them in various states of semi- or unconsciousness.

Omega Theta Pi.  The likeliest opponent faced by Cass during her campus visit.  While the Deltas might welcome her as a kindred spirit as they do with Boon's on-and-off-again girlfriend Katy-- they are considered "toxic" by the college administration, these cocky, overweening children of privilege would more than likely take umbrage at Cass's appearance and instigate some sort of foolish attempt to discredit her, perhaps by luring her to a hotel room for an ambush or by ostracizing her socially.  President Greg Marmalard would prove the limpest opposition to Cass despite talking a good game.  Ultimately, he's too soft and possessed of something of a glass chin.  This fight would last a few minutes only because of the sheer number of fraternity members involved.  It would take Cass time to work her way through their house and back out into the night where she might be briefly tempted to join the pillow fight with Babs Jansen and Mandy Pepperidge at the nearby sorority house before deciding on  heading back to Gotham City for greater challenges.

Possibly driving Deathmobile, which, with slight modifications, would make the perfect Cass Batmobile.

Cassandra Cain comes back... as a Black Bat chess piece!

Being in Japan, I don't hear about these things until after everyone else so I'm like little brother, always tagging along, towing my little Radio Flyer wagon filled with dog-eared Batgirl trade paperbacks and wrinkled up comic books. So while I really don't want Cass-O-Rama to become some kind of aggregator site where I'm just compiling links to other people's blog entries and Tumblr posts about Cassandra Cain, sometimes it can't be helped.

So here we are, reacting rather late to the Eaglemoss Black Bat white pawn (#028 in the set), with a release date of March 2013 (just in time for my birthday, hint hint).  Retailing for a mere $15.99 and currently available for pre-order.  If I wasn't posting this from work I'd have snagged a photo to show it off and make this post prettier. It's a nice little piece and quite a surprise considering Cass's status as persona non grata at DC Comics.  She's got her fly-away hair, pointy domino mask, a serious but somewhat bland expression, her white forearm wraps the purpose of which eludes me and she's double-fisting some dangerous-looking batarangs so you know she's open for business.  The sculptor has given her a muscular, not-too-exaggerated physique.  That in itself is a minor miracle.

There's such a paucity of Cass-related merchandise out there-- as far as I know it consists of one incredibly ugly action figure from DC Direct, another half-assed one from Mattel, plus a Hero Clix piece, an Ame-Comi statue and an all-but-impossible-to-find teensy-tiny figure from a Batman blind-box collection here in Japan-- so this is a welcome treat for this Cass fan, and if I may be so bold, for all Cass fans.  All twenty or so of us.

 Who would've thought it? They must have been too far along in the production process to cancel it when all the buzz about Cass and Stephanie Brown being toxic started making the Internet rounds. And of course, there may still be time for someone high up at DC to buy them all and destroy them before they fall into the hands of anyone who might appreciate having a small memorial of Cass's last costumed identity. Indeed, of her very existence before they blotted her out.

Of course we have to address the elephant in the room-- apparently the set originally included Barbara Gordon as Oracle and what was possibly Stephanie Brown as Batgirl.  Those are out, but Barbara is back in as the current Batgirl.  No surprise there.  Sorry Oracle and Steph fans.  There's even less Steph merchandise out there than there is for Cass.

With #012 in the set being a rather bad-ass looking Katana, I'm going to try to get both of them and also #03 Damian Wayne Robin so I can pretend the two of them are kicking the crap out of that little snot.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cass versus the Robins!

I've shared my opinion on a couple of Marvel characters who could beat Cass.  Cass defeated?  Yes, it has to happen.  Otherwise she'd just be invincible and never in any kind of jeopardy, which renders a lot of the external conflict comics are based on pointless. But as a Cass fan, I enjoy stories where she wins.  And as the best pure martial artist in the DC universe, there are quite a number of characters she can beat.  In fact, she could probably defeat any non-powered character other than Batman himself.

Ever since Adam Beechen threw a little possible romance in between Cass and Tim Drake in Robin issues 150-151 (July, August 2006), one of my little funny things to do is draw little doodles of Cass putting a variety of hurtings on a lovestruck Tim.  Usually with the sound effect "BEECHEN!"  While this would never happen in the comics-- they're just good friends-- it's pretty much how it would play out if the two did tangle.  Because there's not a Robin past or present Cass couldn't whup with one hand tired behind her back.  Here's how I see the various Robins against Cass:

Dick Grayson?  He'd put up the best fight, but how much of one depends on which Dick she fights.  Kid Dick from the Golden and Silver Ages would last no longer than any of the later Robins-- mere seconds-- but the older Nightwing Dick could stand toe-to-toe with Cass for a while before she'd inevitably knock him the hell out.  After all, this guy substituted for Batman.  Still, there's no way we can have a Dick Grayson who's just as powerful a fighter as his mentor-- otherwise why have a Batman in the first place?-- and the comics definitively establish Cass as being a formidable foe for the Caped Crusader himself.  Therefore, Dick falls into third place in the Bat-family fighter pantheon behind Batman and Cass.

The caveat to this is if Dick cheats somehow.  He's a bit brighter than Cass, and has to be because of his status as substitute-Batman, Batman being the World's Greatest Detective.  Cass is no dummy.  She's quite smart, actually.  But Dick (despite being depicted as a complete idiot due to shaky writing at times) must be close to genius.  My reasoning behind this is while Batman would no doubt train his kid army to be as skilled as possible in all aspects of their mission, he must also realize not everyone can excel at everything.  He happens to be a polymath, but it's unreasonable for him to expect everyone else to be.  Better to have them specialize.  He started Dick's training before he figured this out and it's sort of traditional for a Robin to fill that role.  So Dick has come farthest towards the all-around standards of his teacher, but Cass is a particularly sharp knife and we do not use such a knife as a hammer and expect it to cut when we need it to later.  Cass needs a certain level of detective/brain ability but she's better as a pure fighter.

So Dick has a shot at finding some weakness of Cass's to exploit.  Not likely, however.

Jason Todd?  Alive or dead, Robin or Red Hood, Cass can take him.  He's a rawer form of Grayson, created as a mere substitute and as such, not to be taken completely seriously.  I've always questioned the need for a Robin in the first place.  Once we grant that first Robin, it takes effort to justify putting a child in danger and really puts Batman's judgement in question (even more so than disguising himself as a bat on the theory that criminals as a whole are a "cowardly, superstitious lot").  Still, most people expect Batman to have a Robin (even if you're not a comic fan, the phrase "Batman and Robin" rings a bell), hence Jason after Dick becomes Nightwing.  Hand-me-down characters get harsher beat-downs than originals.  That's just how it works.

Tim Drake?  Not even a contest.  If we posit a Dick Grayson defeat by Cass, and another one with Jason Todd, then obviously this later, lesser Robin has to fall as well.  As a youngster, Tim Drake's not even as formed an adventurer as either of the previous Robins.  Much less experienced.  Yeah, he's become a fine Red Robin, but even now there's no way he could stand against Cass and her lifetime of violence and the resultant special abilities she possesses.  In any story where he's even give her the slightest problem can be chalked up to writer error.

Stephanie Brown?  Less of a fight than even Drake.  In her own comic Cass has been shown to knock Steph out in a casual, off-handed way that smacks of zero effort expended.

Damian Wayne?  Despite his having an upbringing similar to Cass's, she eats him alive, and the indigestion she momentarily suffers is the only difficulty she encounters.  Tactical genius or not, raised by the League of Assassins and all that, he's still a child with a child's physique.  Cass also has him on skill level.  If he lives to adulthood, then we might see something amazing, along the lines of Cass versus Batman.  But given his personality, what are the chances of that?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cassandra Cain versus Spider-Man!

I spent a chunk of yesterday reading various "Cass versus" match-ups on different message boards.  One for some reason posited a cage fight between Cass and an oddly de-powered Spider-Man.  The discussion that followed was full of RPG-derived jargon and terms like "nerfing," none of which I'll go into here.  When I talk Cass-fights, I'm approaching them from a practical, reality-based standpoint (as much as possible when discussing superheroes and magical beings) and as a writer might.

Unfortunately for Cass, Spider-Man is quite a bit out of her power range.  As I previously discussed, she may even have a problem reading his body language and predicting his moves if his movements happen to incorporate anything spider-like.  This might even be something Spidey's less sensitive foes would never have noticed, but to Cass would be like an irritating buzz just inside the hearing frequencies on some slightly flawed master tape to an expert audiophile.  That's just the start of her problems.

I believe Cass would be able to land quite a few blows despite Spider-Man's own spider-sense power and his beyond-human speed and agility, but the Wall-Crawler also possesses incredible resistance to pain and injury.  Otherwise his web-swinging acrobatics would have snapped his all-to-human neck or he would have succumbed to any of the number of high-powered blows he's experienced through the years.  With her predictive senses only somewhat helpful, Cass still finds herself tagging Spidey, but unable to deal him serious  injury.  Meanwhile, she proves vulnerable to his attacks-- and remember, his strength level is well above an ordinary human's.  Spidey finds Cass very nimble in her own right and capable of dodging some of his punches and kicks, but he's pounding her a lot more than she's pounding him.

Cass might be able to learn some of Spidey's more human-like moves and attacks, but her body-- as peak conditioned as it is-- remains that of a base line human.  Cass's fantastic martial arts prowess is ultimately no match for Spidey's freakish nature and greater experience.  The resulting fight is brutal, goes on a little longer than Spider-Man might expect or like, but in the end, Cass succumbs.

And that's without Spidey having to use his web-shooters.  What if he did employ them?  Well, I don't think Cass has much a defense against those, and even if she did, Spidey could possibly whip up enough netting to gum Cass up but good.  She could probably find something in her utility belt to free herself, but not before Spidey closes for the coup de grace.

On the other hand, a likely scenario would be the cliched meet-n-fight followed by a team-up where they take down Kingpin who's allied with Penguin for some nefarious scheme that stretches from Gotham City to New York City.  If I wrote it, however, I'd just combine the two settings into just New York, with Gotham as its nickname.  No cross-dimensional shenanigans for this cross-company cross-over if you please!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How can we save Cass?

That's a question I think about occasionally.  Someone else recently asked it as well, and that got me to thinking about Cass even more.  Not many people are these days, it seems.  Most if not all of the other Cass blogs are moribund in the wake of the Save Cass event, which appears to have had next to no impact whatsoever.  So anytime someone starts a Cass discussion, I'm thrilled to start my overworked, underperforming brain calculating and scheming on this topic.  Save Cass.  How can DC save Cass?  How can we save Cass?

I'm not talking about letter writing campaigns or buying her first issue from Comixology, as worthy as the latter was.  Certainly, people should be encouraged to do both.  And to keep asking Dan DiDio and the rest about when she's coming back at every single DC panel from now until the sun consumes the earth billions of years from now.  But I'm talking about fixing Cassandra Cain as a character in the wake of this New 52 stuff.  She may eventually resurface in the DC universe, but in some subtly-- or not so subtly-- altered form.  What about the old Cass should be kept?  What should be lost?

The first thing they should ditch is the notion David Cain created a lot of other girls similar to Cass and anything that suggests that's one of her main issues with him.  Having been a lousy, abusive father is plenty enough to have Cass reject him in favor of Batman as dad of choice.  Really, after the way he crapped up her childhood and caused her to kill, then emotionally manipulated her for years afterwards when she became Batgirl, the last thing Cass should care about is whether or not Cain really loved her as a daughter or if he was spreading it around.  And even if the point is she's simply angry he did the same to others that he did to her, having a lot of would-be Casses around only dilutes her as a singular achievement.  Introducing this whole element was a major mis-step.  How stupid is it to introduce a character, position her as unique, then duplicate her in various forms a million times anyway?  I'll go ahead an answer that.  It's very stupid.

The second thing they should do is limit her dialogue.  Okay, she knows how to speak and read and write and all that good stuff.  But that doesn't mean she has to be doing so at a university or making long speeches.  Being able to talk and just not seeing much point in blabbing everything you know are different things, and there are already too many snarky, supposedly witty characters cribbed from the Joss Whedon School of Dialogue Writing as it is.  No writer ever really took Cass in that direction, but they sure made her loquacious as all get out, so it was only a matter of time.  Stop it before it happens.  Silent is scary. Silent is cool.

The third thing is drop any notion Cass wants a "normal" life.  While she probably would wish she hadn't spent her childhood being slapped around and shot, the whole "Why can't I be like everyone else?" trope is demeaning and tired.  Cass should enjoy being who she is even through the pain.  As a character she worked best when she was freaking Barbara Gordon out with her ambivalence towards things like having social life and keeping her identity secret.  That's some extreme stuff.  Not everyone wants to wear bikinis on cruise ships and fight crime as a way of meeting boys, Barbara.  Some want to blend into the night and come on like a shadow made of fists and feet and the occasional head-butt.

The fourth is you're probably not going to want to keep the death wish aspect of her personality.  It was cool for the first two years of her monthly because she just didn't seem to care a bit about her own safety, but it's something they resolved and needed to when all her secrets came out and she fought Lady Shiva to the death.  On the other hand, the alarming disregard for personal safety is something that should be played up, but in relation to her just not giving a rip for conventionality.  And also that she's totally comfortable with being a fighting machine possessed of no fear whatsoever.

Drop the "Deathstroke drugged her/she became evil for a while" storyline.  Just eliminate it completely and never speak of it again.  Writing that out of continuity by itself would go a long way towards repairing Cass as a character.

So what should be done?  Boil her down to her essence.  You can keep a lot of her character development-- learning to speak, becoming friends with Stephanie Brown, resolving her father issues by finally rejecting Cain, but at the same time, make her back into that pure silent and deadly character she was.  The girl who wouldn't quit unless you killed her.  DC doesn't even have to keep her as a Batgirl.  There's nothing wrong with introducing her as Black Bat and letting Steph be the replacement Batgirl of record.  At first I was excited about the New 52 as an opportunity for DC to do something like this and get back to basics with this character and make up for a lot of damage, especially when it seemed she'd still be a supporting character in Batman, Inc.

Oh well.  Maybe in a few years or so they can try again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cassandra Cain versus Taskmaster!

Comic Vine's discussion boards are a goldmine of super-wonky comic book discussions about who would win in practically any fight you can imagine.  Now the closest things to superpowers Cass has are her abilities to read people's body language and therefore anticipate their next moves and to learn new fighting styles in a matter of minutes just by watching.  Batman taught her stick fighting from novice to expert in about five minutes.  Now since there's no way he showed her every possible strike, counterstrike and defense in those five minutes or so, we have to assume some sort of higher function when it comes to understanding martial arts-- once she grasps the basic concept, she can use her superior skills and strangely-wired mind to extrapolate from there until she has that expert-level proficiency without having to spend years in practice.

What I'm getting at is what happens when she fights someone with similar abilities?  Like Marvel's Taskmaster?  Taskmaster can almost instantaneously learn someone's fighting skills just by watching them, which then gives him something like Cass's predictive ability.  Well, the fans at Comic Vine hash it out pretty thoroughly, but here's my take.

All things being equal, and both unarmed, I think his greater strength gives Taskmaster the edge, but if Cass can stay a step ahead of Taskmaster, she has a chance to wear him down.  Taskmaster and Deathstroke are roughly analogous, and Deathstroke has always given Cass fits.  Cass would have a better time predicting Taskmaster's moves than she did Deathstroke's because Deathstroke had some kind of funky kinetic dissonance going on that confused Cass, and she'd be learning from Taskmaster and gaining skills (while Taskmaster would peak out once he'd watched Cass's base martial artistry-- all else would be superfluously his own), but I don't think her greater speed takes his size and mass.

But Taskmaster isn't stupid, so he'd ambush Cass using his sword or fake Captain America shield.  Surprised and off-balance from the start by Taskmaster's assault, there's no way Cass develops the skill level fast enough to win even if she found a sword of her own to use.  Yes, I said Cass would beat Katana under similar circumstances, but Katana isn't Cass's match in pure martial artistry.

Unfortunately, I have to give this one to Taskmaster.  It would be one heck of a fight, though.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cass versus everybody!

What would happen if Cassandra Cain fought other comic book characters?  We've seen it in the actual comic books, of course.  I'm not talking about stories we've seen.  I'm talking stories we will probably never see in a million reboots.  Who would Cass beat?  Who would beat Cass?  The answer is, "The winner would be whoever the scripter needed it to be, regardless of logic or reader opinion."  But this is the Internet where everyone has an opinion, including this blogger.  After desperately looking for Cass news and finding nothing but a lot of hardcore comic book fans debating Cassandra Cain versus Domino (the Marvel character, not the real person played by Keira Knightley), I've decided to share mine.  I'm going to be objective as possible.  None of that "Character X loses because I hate Character X" crap that invalidates some fan's arguments.

Here we go:

Batman.  Batman wins.  Batman always wins.  Cass may be nigh-untouchable and capable of punching Batman hard enough to make him spit up blood, but Batman has the ineffable quality of simply being Batman.  Plus, if Cass could beat Batman, what would be the point of having a Batman?  In story terms, he's got years of experience on her, plus he's a smarter and would cheat if necessary.  But I seriously doubt it would be necessary.

Superman.  I know Frank Miller popularized the idea Batman would beat Superman, but in truth, Superman would smear Batman.  In that he could literally reduce Batman to a red smear at nearly the speed of light.  So if Batman beats Cassandra and Superman beats Batman, obviously Superman beats Cass.

Wonder Woman.  Much like the Superman fight, this is a person whose power level is far beyond Cass's capabilities.  Wonder Woman in a walk.

Batgirl.  Which one?  Barbara Gordon or Stephanie Brown or Helena Bertinelli, Cass takes them all, either singularly or in a group.  She'd mop up the floor with them. But she'd rather not.

Supergirl.  Pretty much the same as the Superman fight.  Minus those crystal shards from the time these two actually tangled.  To be honest, I'm thinking of classic Supergirl.  Who would still win.

Robin.  Again, any Robin, doesn't matter.  Cass would stomp their guts out.

Flash.  Cass can't fight what she can't see and probably can't touch.  Flash.

Green Lantern.  Any of them would defeat Cass by surrounding her with some kind of airtight green energy bubble and suffocating her.  Green Lantern wins.

Isis.  While Cindy Lee tries to convince Cass that Isis is really an awesome person, Cass springs completely over the ever-cheerful Larkspur High factotum, jukes past a confused Rick Mason, avoids some words of wisdom from Dr. Barnes... only to lose to Isis because Isis is MAGICAL.

Katana.  An impressive battle ends with a tired and injured Cass holding Katana captive at the point of her own katana.

Swamp Thing.  Cass would mulch and mulch and never win this one.

Teen Titans.  Any version of this group would lose to Cass.  She'd find a way to exploit their stupidity against them.  Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Cyborg each stand a chance, but they'd trip up somehow.  Titans just aren't that bright.

Funky Flashman and Houseroy.  Funky falls foul trying to trick Cass into headlining some kind of circus act, then she whips his ass in seconds flat, then does the same to poor Houseroy.

Mr. Miracle and Big Barda.  My favorite married couple wins not because they're my favorite married couple but because Mr. Miracle escapes every trap and Big Barda is the consummate warrior.

X-23.  The female Wolverine clone with the foot claws and all that.  I like to think of her as Marvel's answer to Cass.  Even though Wolverine is the most overexposed of heroes, which means here's yet one more version of the same guy, X-23's a nifty character in her own right.  This is one I'd love to see happen.  Cass might be faster and overall a better fighter, but X-23 has healing powers and claws.  It would be a tremendous fight, but I have to give the edge to X-23.

Spider-Man.  Spidey would have to get over his initial squeamishness at fighting a young girl and pull out all the stops.  I'm not sure how Cass's "reading the person's body language" would help her with someone whose body language is kind of spidery and has webshooters.  Spider-Man would take a few blows early in the match until he wakes up and realizes Cass isn't playing around, and then his superhuman abilities would give him the edge and Cass would find herself in a sticky situation, dangling helplessly from a streetlight.

Hulk.  Cass would dodge him for a while but she'd get tired eventually, and Hulk never would.  Her only hope is evading him long enough for the Air Force or Army to come to her rescue.  Otherwise, bye bye Cass.

Iron Man.  Beats Cass from a distance.

Fantastic Four.  Sue would prove the deciding factor here.  The Thing's not fast enough, and neither is Mr. Incredible.  Johnny could possibly kill Cass from afar, but he'd never do that.  Instead, the Invisible Woman would use a variation on the Green Lantern gambit and render her unconscious, allowing the team to safely capture Cass and place her under observation until some sort of arrangement could be worked out with Batman.

The Punisher.  If he snipes Cass from 1000 yards with a 7.62 x 51mm M40A5, he has a chance.  And that's more than likely what he'd choose to do if he has advance intelligence on her.  Up close, he finds himself frustrated by Cass's lightning fast dodges and attacks and soon finds himself on the south side of Rubber Leg Street.

Silver Surfer.  By the Power Cosmic, it's the bald metallic space guy without breaking a sweat!

Uncanny X-Men.  Cass stomps her way through some of the junior members and underclasspeople, but then she has to fight the boss squad of such heavyweights as Cyclops, Storm, Colossus and Wolverine himself.  That part wouldn't last long, and if she survives, the end result would be similar to her fight with the Fantastic Four.

New Mutants.  Cass would cream Moonstar, dodge Cannonball, knock Wolfsbane out, easily thump Doug... but then she has to face Sunspot, Warlock and Magma.  She could probably dance rings around Sunspot, but Warlock proves problematic and Magma has massive ranged attacks with lava and earthquakes.  If Magik joins in, and Karma, we're looking at about half an issue of fighting, then half an issue of the kids wondering what to do with a beaten, exhausted Cass.  They'd all end up having a slumber party, I'm sure.

Wolverine.  Like the X2-3 fight, only much, much shorter.

Nexus.  No contest.  Nexus disintegrates Cass before the fight even gets started.  But he wouldn't because she isn't a mass murderer, just a murderer when crappy writers pen her stories.

Gen13.  The classic group.  They're not much smarter than the Teen Titans despite Caitlin Fairchild's supposed super-genius status, but they'd eventually win.  Eventually.  Grunge and Burnout crap out early because of their horndog tendencies, leaving Fairchild, Freefall and Rainmaker to close the deal with a series of ranged attacks until Fairchild can get in close and deal a distracted Cass a knock-out blow.

Maggie and Hopey.  Cass versus las Locas.  Despite Maggie's having dabbled in superheroics, this wouldn't last very long at all.  It would be funny as hell, though.

Judge Dredd.  If it came down to strictly hand-to-hand, Cass has the edge but Dredd would just shoot her with a heat-seeking bullet and that would be that.

Enid and Rebecca.  See "Maggie and Hopey" above.  These two girls would snark themselves into a world of hurt.

Hellboy.  Hellboy would clean Cass's clock.

Uncle Creepy.  Uncle Creepy tries to disorient Cass by drawing her into the nightmare world of his various horror stories, but soon finds she's as fearless as they come.  Fighting her way through various axe murderers, vampires, werewolves and zombies, Cass confronts Creepy and chokes him out, then scampers back to her own comic book universe.

Archie Andrews.  Cass would destroy America's favorite teen.

Richie Rich.  Not even his vast wealth could save the poor little rich boy... unless he can hire one of the potential winners from this list as his champion.

Casper the Friendly Ghost.  Incorporeal ghost boy defeats corporeal martial artist every time.  Casper couldn't frighten Cass, and he wouldn't actually fight her. He'd just drive her away with his annoying attempts at befriending her.

Okay, that's not quite everybody.  Just all the characters I can think of at the moment, plus I've run out of steam.  If you have any suggestions, just let me know and I'll give you my honest determination of winner and loser.